Christian Womanhood

by David & Stephen Olford

David & Stephen OlfordText: "I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea, that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also" (Romans 16: 1-2).

Thought: There are those who maintain that the Apostle Paul had no time for those of the opposite sex. But here we are given a Spirit-inspired glimpse into the life and work of a woman named Phoebe which helps us to understand the place which God has accorded women, both in the Church and in the Word. Consider . . .

The Dignity of Christian Womanhood

"I commend to you Phoebe our sister." In using this term of endearment, Paul is referring to spiritual, rather than her natural relationship to him and the church. She was a convert from heathenism, but had encountered the living Lord, and God had given her a new name and nature. So Paul admonishes his readers to receive her in the Lord and to assist her in the business she was to accomplish at Rome. The world of Paul's day was sometimes bitterly antagonistic or rigidly exclusive, but the acceptance of Phoebe in the church only serves to dramatize what the grace of God had in the appreciation of womanhood.

The Liberty of Christian Womanhood

"I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea." A church had emerged in this town through the evangelistic endeavors of the Apostle, and Phoebe, by virtue of her conversion and subsequent testimony. Notice that Phoebe was a servant of the church, rather than in the church. A close examination of the text, together with other supporting passages of Scripture (see 1 Tim. 2: 11-12; 3:11; 1 Cor. 11: 5) underscores the liberty of Christian women and their position in the church. A woman can pray, sing, and prophesy in the gatherings of God's people, but she cannot usurp authority or assume the place of leadership in teaching except in the absence of men. True liberty can only come through submission to the Son of God and the Word of God.

The Ministry of Christian Womanhood

"I commend to you Phoebe a helper of many and of myself also." The term "helper" refers to one who took care of a stranger and was responsible for him to the civil authorities. Phoebe is spoken of as one who had, in things spiritual, assumed this position on behalf of many, even for the Apostle himself. In what way she assisted Paul we are not told, but whatever service she rendered was the exercise of her God-given talent and time. Little did she dream that her deeds of kindness to this man of God and to others in the church would be a lasting monument to the dignity, liberty and ministry of Christian womanhood.

Thrust: Oh, the dignity and liberty of one who is a servant of the church on God's terms!

David Olford teaches expository preaching at Union University's
Stephen Olford Center in Memphis, Tennessee

2011 Disciple 155x50 2011 AMG 155x50
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